Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

A gift to bring

drummerAs a child growing up in a dysfunctional home, I found various things and places to fill the absence of love, to find my happy, to make the world go away.  Television became an escape from the reality of all the yuck.

I especially loved the Christmas shows that came on once a year.  Unlike today where they are readily available, if you missed a show back then, you didn’t get to see it for another year, so you can imagine how upsetting it could be to miss even one.  Seriously, devastating!

I’m happy to see the cartoons of old are still loved by many today.  Most of them have a wonderful message to share, why even the mean ol’ Grinch came around from his grinchiness and  concluded “Maybe Christmas, he thought…doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps…means a little bit more!”  Ummm, ya think?

I’m sure you have your favorite and even those you despise. Of all the Christmas cartoons, growing up and most of my adult life, I have to say The Little Drummer Boy was my least favorite, and yet to fill that void, I would still watch it.  The story always made me cry. Always.  I watched it just recently and sure enough, it made me all weepy.  Doesn’t seem to matter I know what’s going to happen, and even knowing the ending..there I am, grabbing my Kleenex.

The Little Drummer Boy animated claymation version of which I’m referring to first aired on December 19, 1968.

For years I watched this show and it held no significant meaning for me.  It was just a sad stroy, with a fairly happy ending.  To me, it was all about the lamb.  Aaron’s lamb.

In the beginning of the story, the narrator spoke of a decree from Caesar Augustus stating that the world should be taxed.  In order for this to happen, the people would need to travel back to their own land.  Growing up, that type information fell under the subject “History” and quite frankly, I didn’t care for history.

We find in Luke, Chapter 2:1-3 (KJV):

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.”  Means they had to all go back where they came from.

So in Verses 4-6 it states:

 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.”

Now that I have a relationship with God, I think..that’s pretty cool…it’s biblical.  Just in a condensed version.

The story goes on to tell of a little boy who was the son of a Sheppard who loved his life.  From the outside looking in, Aaron had an idyllic childhood. Parents who loved him, roof over his head and presents for his birthday.  On his birthday his father gives him a drum.  And instantly he’s a rock star, plays the drum so well, his animals dance to the beat.

Then one night, bandits decide to attack their home and everything that is near and dear to Aaron is taken from him.  All he has left is his drum and his friends….Samson, his donkey; Joshua, his camel and Baba his lamb. The devastation of this night causes Aaron to hate all people.  Not just those who killed his family….but ALL people.  He is filled with anger, unforgiveness, and bitterness and wants nothing to do with people.  He judges them all alike…through the eyes of hatred.

Next poor Aaron’s just going along and boom he’s being kidnapped by the oh so greedy Ben Haramed and his goofy side kick Ali (ahli).  Haramed wants to use Aaron and his dancing crew to make money so he can pay the taxes that have been levied.  So the band of misfits head into Jerusalem to the town square where they fail miserably with their performances.  Aaron lashes out irrationally at the townspeople because he thinks everyone should be as miserable as he is and the motley crew are run out of town.

So, the little band of misfits retreat and eventually happen upon the Three Wise Men’s caravan. What they fail to notice is the very bright star and its glory in the sky.  Haramed can’t see past his greed and Aaron can’t see past his hatred and anger.  The wise men have no time to be entertained as they need to follow the star and they shoo the misfits away.  However, one of the camels in the King’s caravan is too worn out to complete the journey so Haramed sells Aaron’s beloved camel Joshua to the royal caravan.

Now that Haramed has his beloved gold, he lets Aaron leave.  So off Aaron, Samson and baba go in search of Joshua.  They follow the star as they knew that’s what the wise men were doing and that inevitably leads them to Bethlehem where they see….exactly what they were looking for…the kings’ caravan and Joshua.  In their excitement and haste to get to reunited with Joshua, little baba gets run over by a chariot.

Aaron is heartbroken and he just knows the wisemen can help him because after all, they are Kings.  The wiseman  Aaron approaches, tells him that he cannot help him and indeed his lamb is close to death.  Aaron responds “but you are a king.” To which the king says, he is a king, but a mortal king.  He tells Aaron to go to the babe to which Aaron replies, “I have no gift to bring.”  But, he tenderly lays baba down and he approaches the babe lying in the manager.

As he fixes his eyes on the newborn, Aaron is caught up in the beauty of this baby and since he has nothing of material value to place before the babe, he picks up his drum and he plays for him.

In that moment, Aaron is playing only for the baby Jesus.  He is giving the gift of his drum playing back to the one who gave him the gift in the first place.  So you see, he did have a gift to bring.  He didn’t have to wrap in up in paper and bows and make it all sparkly and pretty.  He went just as he was.  Heartbroken and full of hate.

But as he played for Jesus and his focus was on worshipping Jesus through his drum playing instead of his problems what happened?  God saw Aaron’s act of “simple desperation stemmed out of pure love” and He healed baba.  Aaron’s heart is filled with love and his spirit with joy. He was then convicted of his hatred and knew it was wrong…the narrator said so.

I guess the simple lesson learned here is that we all have a gift to bring.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be big or showy, it just needs to come from the heart.  Jesus has everything.  Everything that He’s given us was well thought out and to be used for the glory and honor of His Kingdom.  He’s placed different gifts in each of us…how we use them is our gift back to Him.  I’ll end with the verse the show used…”Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Matthew 5:8

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I love you more than my phone…


I saw you today.  But you didn’t see me.  As you passed by me in your truck you couldn’t have seen me because you weren’t looking head and eyes up, you were staring head and eyes down.  You don’t know me and clearly you don’t care about me or else your eyes would have been on the road, not in your lap.  You must not care too much about you either but you sure do care about what’s on that phone.

We aren’t taught to drive with a phone in our hands.  We’re taught do drive with 2 hands on the wheel.  If you took your mobile phone to your driver’s test and tried to read your phone while testing to get your license, you would fail.  Because texting and driving…is a fail. It’s also against the law in the state of NY.  But you already know that and have made a conscious decision that you don’t care about the law, you don’t care about you, and you don’t care about me…you care about the phone.  The phone is not a person.  But you treat it like it is.  The phone can’t hug you, kiss you, care for you; all it can do is distract you.  It’s your master.  It dings, you drop everything to see what it has to say.

I don’t care what you do with your phone when you’re not operating a piece of machinery. I care very much that you choose to use it when you’re driving.  Your attention to your phone while you’re driving tells me 2 things right off the bat about you. You’re full of pride and you think you can totally text and drive and be in total control.  This self-deluded thinking no doubt is from having done it multiple times and getting away with it.  You’re also selfish. Yes, selfish.  You care more for what’s on that phone than you do human life to include your own, otherwise you would be looking at the road, not your phone.

I wonder what it will take for you to put your phone down while you’re driving.  Clearly it’s not the law, you break that every day.  Clearly it’s not me.  Clearly it’s not you.  Clearly, if you have a family, it’s not them.  So I’m guessing it would no doubt have to be a tragedy of some sort to get your attention.  Maybe you’ll run over someone’s dog or cat.  Maybe you’ll hit another vehicle and cause a multiple vehicle wreck. Maybe you’ll kill someone..maybe that someone killed will be you.  Maybe when you’re in court listening to the family members of the person you killed sobbing, saying how much they miss their loved one, you’ll care.  For now, I guess we’ll never know.

What you do with your phone is none of my business until you get in your car and decide that the life of me, my loved ones and countless others are nothing compared to what’s on your phone.  I don’t know you, but I care about you more than I care about my phone…because in the end….it’s just a phone….it’s replaceable. YOU are not.  So today, even though I don’t know you, I love you enough to not text and drive.  Who do you love more than your phone?  If you text and drive, the answer is clear…you choose your phone.  You love your phone more than you love life.  Period.  I pray someday, sooner rather than later, you’ll do the same.  Please don’t text and drive.

Please watch the PSA….and if you’re first thought is..”that would never happen to me,” you might want to consider, Proverbs 16:18~~”Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (NIV)   You are not in control, you are not exempt from the consequences of your actions. Playing with fire gets you burned…don’t let texting and driving, get you or someone else dead.

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Broken Bird

Prayer between my Heavenly Father is sometimes frustrating.  Some days I feel like…am I asking the right thing, is this too petty, is this too much, is this too little?  Other days I just shake my head as I let Him hear my heart and then I go about my day.  Then, there’s this prayer…open the eyes of my heart Lord and break my heart for what breaks yours.  Weird when you think that type of prayer will be about something huge and then it turns out it can be something small.

About a week ago, I walked over to a building where I worked.  There was this bird on the steps, it was injured and couldn’t fly.  Taking survey of the bird, there were no feathers on its head or neck and it looked to have some red sores on the neck area.

As I got closer the bird was hobbling off in fear while making bird noises, so I thought it best to stop advancing as I just kept looking at the bird, wondering what I could do for the poor thing.  I didn’t know what type of bird it was, but I did know it wasn’t a baby or an adult.  I guess it could have been a crow or maybe a vulture, but I truly didn’t know.  All I knew for certain is, it was injured, it couldn’t fly, and I felt really bad for it. I wanted to do something for it, I wanted to protect it, but I really didn’t know how.

So I went inside and asked the maintenance guy what we do for injured birds.  He came outside with me and while his supervisor went and got the net they use to catch bats, I made some phone calls.  SPCA does not handle wildlife so they gave me another number and I left a message and no one ever called me back.  We called another office and they said they would send someone over.  The bird was now in the net, but I can only imagine how scared it must have been.  I left the bird with the man who had the net.

As my day went along, I kept thinking about that poor bird.  It truly just broke my heart.  For pity sakes it was a bird.  And this injured bird broke my heart.

Later in the day I went to ask about the bird and I found out it had been taken over by the railroad tracks.  No one hurt the bird but in case it had a disease or something, it was decided to move it away from people.  I didn’t want to know anymore so I tried to put the bird out of my mind.

On the way home, I had to drive over the tracks which lay under the viaduct.  I could not believe my eyes, but there was that bird again.  Not under the bridge, but on the top, on the sidewalk next to where the all the traffic was. So it was not like I could get out of my car and go get it.  I didn’t have a net or a box of any kind to put it in if I did manage to catch it.  So what’s a girl to do?  I pray for that injured bird and I cry.

Yup, I cried for that injured bird on the side of the road all alone with no one to help it.  It seemed so lost and displaced.  I felt helpless to help and I felt horrible that it had been moved from a pretty good place to a place of danger and now all I could think of was…what’s going to happen to that stupid bird that I couldn’t stop crying over!

So here I sit, telling you this story about my broken bird and I’m crying all over again.  And you know what I know about that bird?  I know it was an answer to prayer.  First, I had been worrying over something for days and I asked God to break my heart for what breaks his.  And He showed me a broken bird and that broken bird brought me back to His Word.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”~~Matthew 6:25-34

I was worried about things in my life.  I know, I not worry. I’m human, I don’t always get life right.  Go figure.  Say what you will, but in that moment, as I cried over that broken bird, I knew that broken bird was me and God’s heart was breaking over my own brokenness.  And then I’m reminded that Jesus loves me.  He…LOVES…me.  I’d let the enemy in the door with my worry and God brought a broken bird to remind me I need not worry and He will heal my broken parts. Unfortunately, just like the injured bird, hobbling off in fear, I too hobble off, muttering under my breath while trying to take care of things the only way I know how; relying on me, myself, and I.  Why on earth would I do that, when I have the Trinity? God, His Son, and His Holy Spirit.  Now, that’s a force to be reckoned with, dontcha think?

John, 15:5 states, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  Why do I forget just how close He is?  Why do I forget just how much He cares?  Why do I forget that He loves me with an everlasting love?  Worrying bears no fruit.  It causes so much stress on our bodies.  We were never meant to carry that kind of stress, is it any wonder we can worry ourselves sick?  Our worry hurts our Father in so many ways.  Truly, I know, it breaks His heart.

He is a good God.  He does not like to see us hurting, alone, detached from Him wondering what’s going to happen.  He wants for us to trust Him, to stay close to Him and hear Him breathe and speak life into the very being He created.  For you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  He creates all that is good and light and lovely. He didn’t create a mess. Man creates mess. So if you’re life is a mess, then look for the One, who is good and He will show you the light, the truth and the way.  Aren’t you tired of hobbling?

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It took one God to create the entire earth into being and everything in it.

It took one serpent to entice one woman to eat one fruit from one tree and pass that one fruit to one man to create sin.

It took one brother to kill another brother to create murder.

It took one Savior to come down from Heaven to touch the earth with His grace and glory.

It took one virgin to give birth to one Savior.

Throughout the Bible there are many stories of what just one can do with the One.

It took one shepherd boy to take down one Goliath with one stone.

It took one queen to save the Jewish people from perishing under the edict of one man.

It took one man to build an ark.

It took one man to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

It took one woman at the well to spread the good news.

It took one man to betray Jesus.

It took one death to break the veil.

It took one resurrection to overcome death.

It took this one death….one sacrifice to take away ALL the sins of the world.

Jesus Christ is the truth, the way, and the life.  He is the Alpha, and the Omega. The beginning and the end.  The first and the last.  He is I Am.

For such a time as this….we are now the one He’s called.  We have a purpose, we have a mission, we have a calling, and we only have right now.  Don’t let one second, turn one minute, into one day, that never happens.

Right now, this is your life. Right now, He’s in control. Right now, He knows what you’re doing, what you’ve done, what you’re going to do and not going to do.

He’s placed you here, where you are, in the midst of His purpose. Straight up, your life is not your own, you only have one life to live, and let’s throw in you only live once…shout it out…YOLO.   So what are you waiting for…..yes, you…. You. Are. That. One.

So, what’s your one?

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Just As I Was

A friend of mine once lovingly told me after I had decided to follow Jesus, “you don’t get to pick and  choose what you want to follow, you pick up your cross and you follow Him.”  I would like to say after she told me that, I did exactly that, but I didn’t.  I’m a work in progress and I’m human, and every day, Jesus teaches me His ways through the Bible.  Not just your ordinary every day book, but a living, breathing life altering, mind transforming (not to be confused with brain washing), heart softening, truth speaking guide to life.

The Bible is His Word speaking to us today.  Yes, I have free will and I live in a fallen world.  The sins of people (including me) are no different than the sins of yesteryear.  A big difference however is that people used to hide their sin and were either ashamed or shamed into hiding or possibly executed or exiled. Today, we flaunt our sin flags proudly and we ask others to watch our sin and then take you to court if you don’t agree to play on the playground of our sin.  It’s splattered all over social media, television, magazines, books and well, just about everywhere you look.  I’m offended by your offense and you’re offended that I’m offended by your offense and everyone’s walking around offended by offense.

What’s a follower of Christ to do?  Do we take our Bibles and thump away at will or do we look the other way and put ourselves in a Christian bubble? We’re just as human and as sinful as the person next to us. Putting ourselves on a pedestal isn’t going to bring lost souls to Jesus.  We can’t run around shaking our holier than thou finger in their faces, because you better start with the person looking back at you in the mirror.  Good grief we’ll chase away those searching for Christ in a NY minute that way.

What brought you to Christ?  I can tell you it wasn’t any one thing for me.  I know it’s more than I’ll ever know this side of Heaven, but what I do know is, people were praying for me and I had no clue about that until after the fact.  Jesus placed people in my life that knew Him but I was too far from Him to grasp it. It wasn’t until my best friend started changing that I started to question what was happening.  It wasn’t an overnight, she took a Jesus pill and was instantly changed. No, it was a gradual change.  I have to be honest, I didn’t quite know what to think.

As she changed, something slowly started changing in me.  She never told me I needed to change. She never told me I was a bad person. She never changed how she loved me.  She told me about her life changing and what work Jesus was doing in her.  There was no holier than thou finger shaking or Bible thumping involved.

See, I already had guilt and shame deep seeded in my soul. I didn’t need anyone telling me my sins were offensive because deep down I already knew.  My best friend loved me just as I was.  Did she want better for me?  Sure she did, she always had, that part never changed. But she never once forced Jesus on me.  She loved me as Jesus loved me.  Just as I was.

But through it all, God was there. It was my time and I was ready.  I’d come to the end of myself and I wanted something better than the living hell I was putting myself through.  You want to know why I changed…ask me.  I’ve been telling people all about me for as long as people will listen.  Difference now….I have nothing to hide.  My chains are gone, I’ve been set free.   This is absolutely nothing I did for myself.   It’s all about Jesus and what He’s done.

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I Looked For You

As a child, I looked for you in my parents. I looked for you in the fairy tales I read, in birthday parties, presents, mystical characters and dolls.

As a teenager, I looked for you in my activities, my crushes, and still, my parents. I looked for you in me.  I looked for you in books, bars, roller skating rinks, the back seats of cars, at parties, football games, baseball games, swimming pools, amusement parks and fairs.

As an adult, I looked for you in my job, my marriages, my friends, my stuff, my money, astrological signs, and the one parent I had left.  I looked for you in multiple affairs, my abilities, and my body.

As a mom I got a glimpse of you for the first time.  So then I looked for you in my son.

When I couldn’t handle it anymore, I looked for you in alcohol.

But, it wasn’t until I gave up looking for you, that you found me.

You found me crumpled up on the floor buried by everything this world had to offer.  My pit was dark, lonely, with absolutely no light. For me, there was only one way out…to snuff this empty, hollow, life.

Ahhh, but this pit was no match for you.  As you lay there with me at my bottom, you grabbed my hand and protected me as you went ahead mightily and without fear or condemnation pushed through lust, greed, pride, self-righteousness, envy, hate, shame, guilt, addiction, and deceitful desires.  You annihilated each sin with the only thing that conquers them all…love.

When we reached the top, you ever so gently, lifted me up out of the pit.  You set me back down, and started writing your story on my stony heart.  You sang me to sleep, you gave me hope, you shed your blood and you died for me. You were tortured, brutalized, spat upon and ridiculed.  You were crucified to fulfill a predestined plan to save me from my selfishness, because you loved me then and despite myself, you love me now.

You are Redeemer to the fallen, weak, misunderstood, sick, lost, and hurting. You are Lord of all creation. You are God of wonders that cannot be measured or denied.  You are light and everything that is good and true and perfect.  You are without blame, without sin, and without a doubt, the risen Savior sent to save us all.

You pursued me, You found me, and You never gave up on me.  You overcame the beasts that sought my destruction.  You waited with unending patience and when I was ready, You wrapped me up, covered me in love and called me Yours.  Never did I imagine a love like Yours! Indeed, nothing can compare.

Day by day, step by step, eyes focused on You, I dare to imagine the life You planned for me.  Day by day, step by step, eyes focused on You, I still mess up.  And day by day, step by step, eyes focused on You, I learn more and more, it’s not about me and what I’ve done or will do, but it’s all about You and what You’ve done and what You’re going to do.

Love is looking for you as well.  He’s waiting, He’s with you, right where you are, no matter what you’re caught up in. Nothing, yes, no thing in your life will stop God from reaching you.  That’s the thing about His Love, it never gives up, it never runs dry and it never leaves you.

Note:  The love story between you and Jesus will most certainly be as unique and wonderful as He made you.  Jesus died for each and every one of us. He was crucified for our transgressions and rose from the dead just as it was prophesied.  He is not just my personal Lord and Savior, He’s yours as well.

“For God so loved the world, He sent His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

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Losing My Religion

Maybe it’s not a blog post I need to write.  Maybe it’s just putting down all the various thoughts running through my head.  I prayed….maybe not the right prayers…I sought…but didn’t really know what I was seeking or who for that matter I was asking these things of.  People I was surrounded with called him God.  I was a catholic, I didn’t know this God, I knew a religion.  Growing up, I knew how to go to a Priest and report my sins as if a human was truly able to absolve me of my actions or remove any guilt I may have had.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to crap on religion, I’m just saying, this is what I knew.  It was very regimented, being a Catholic.  You had rules, you said prayers, you knew about such things as mortal sins and how you never wanted to be guilty of committing a mortal sin.  Don’t take communion until you go to confession if you have one of those mortal sins you’re guilty of.  Divorce?  Are you crazy?  Birth control?  I don’t think so.  Turn the other cheek, confess, pray, sit, kneel, stand, the signs of the cross, the rosary, the apostle’s creed, Hail Mary’s, Our Father’s…I mean you just knew, like a lemming what came next.  Steps to your salvation almost as easy as 1,2,3 as long as you played by their legalistic rules.

Doesn’t sound very personal does it?  Sounds more like God took a big cookie cutter and just cut us out of the same mold and then plopped us down for amusement.  But, that’s not God.  God is not a religion, He never was, nor will He ever be a religion.  He’s not Catholic, He’s not Muslim, He’s not Mormon, He’s not Episcopal, or Baptist….but what He is, in all those religions…is there.  He is the great I am in the great right now, wherever you are, whatever you’re a part of, whatever you’re thinking, feeling, trying to run from, trying to hide behind, wishing for, praying about, stuffing down, celebrating…there is nowhere that He is not.  He is everywhere and He made you and placed you, right where you are for His purposes.

And He promises…He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Right now, He’s holding His hand out to you, giving you the choice to either take hold or walk away.

Looking back I can see the people He placed around me trying to get me to notice Him, but I didn’t know to notice, and I was too hardened to even care.  But, it was easier for me to reflect on my religion over thinking of a relational God who cared. There are many things your religion can tell you about the way you should live your life according to their rules but there is only one Bible, the very Word of God that shows you, the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No religion can ever grab a hold of your heart the way knowing God can.  No religion can change you, because religion didn’t make you. God made you.  He’s the reason or should be the reason for every single step you make, because He is in every single breath you take.

I don’t know what your path looks like.  I don’t know why your life doesn’t look how you think it ought to look.  Maybe it’s because of the choices you’ve made, maybe it’s because you need to walk in obedience, or take a step of faith or maybe it’s just simply because you’ve taken your hand out of His.  Maybe you think God left you, or is angry with you, or you’re angry with Him for taking things or loved ones from your life.  Maybe you think you’re too broken, too far gone, too unworthy, too dirty, too (insert your word here), but I can assure you, you are none of those condemning thoughts because Jesus already took that nail for you.  Why? Because it is written, “For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~~John 3:16 (NIV)  It is not written, For God so loved the world He sent His religion…..because He’s not a religion.  God is so much more than a religion.  He is the very essence of your being, your beating heart, your breath, your life.  And He has such plans for you.

How do I know?  Because it is written: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~~ Jeremiah 29:11

Religion can’t make promises, but God, oh yes my friends…God makes promises.  His Word is living and active and just as relevant today as it ever was, so yea, I’m all about losing my religion and holding onto His promises, His hand, and walking into His vision because He promises it will not harm me, but indeed gives me hope and a future.

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How much for that cake?

That moment the number came out of my mouth, not once, but twice, not only was my heart threatening to jump right out of my chest, but my knees were a shaking and when it was said and done I couldn’t get back to my seat fast enough. Our church was having a dessert auction to raise funds for a new boiler. I would watch the amount raised thus far each week as it was posted in the weekly bulletin.  I would calculate and do the math as best I could in my head to add the amount raised and add the amount being donated by a generous donor who had agreed to match up to half the amount the rest of us would donate.  At the time of the dessert auction, I think we had raised around $1600 total, after a few months knowing we needed a new boiler.

I’d been wrestling with God about this money thing for quite some time.  I have all the typical arguments.  Lord, I already tithe mostly with a glad heart. (insert cheesy grin here) I know the money is yours to begin with and you’re allowing me to be, or not to be a good steward with it.  I donate my time, more money where I can, I bake, I volunteer and well, you get the picture.

I love my church and the very people that reside there. They are amazing.  They just accepted me and drew me right in and every day show me what love looks like. It’s easy to do life with them.  But, now they needed a new boiler and my tax refund was here and I wanted what I wanted. I made all kinds of plans for my tax refund.  I knew I could set $1000.00 aside for “whatever,” but my auto state inspection was coming up and I knew it was going to cost around $500 to get my car fixed before I could get it inspected. That was my whole tax refund.

So I let the money sit in my account and pretended it didn’t exist.  I didn’t even add it into the balance.  But while I was pretending it didn’t exist, God was nudging me on this church boiler thing.  Yes, yes, yes, I know how much they do.  I know it will help many to stay warm, but did you know they had someone to match the donations up to half?

I thought to myself, surely there must be a better and more faster way to raise funds for a church boiler.  So I asked the church secretary if our Pastor would mind if I made a post on my Facebook page so friends and family could help if need be, or how about a GOFUNDME page?  In my mind I saw the money rolling in hand over fist and this way, the money would get raised and I could keep my tax refund.  All of it!!  (rubs hands together and laughs maniacally) Pastor agreed to the GOFUNDME page but there was some info I needed and never got.  I knew I had planted seeds and when the time for the info was to come, it would.  Well, it didn’t.  Crap!!

Here it is the day of the dessert auction.  I made an oreo cookies and cream cake and set it with the rest of the desserts.  As the dessert table filled, I spied this beautiful cake.  I just knew it had to be chocolate with peanut butter, but it was so pretty, I just knew it was store bought.  In my head I told God there was no way I was bidding on a store bought cake.  Besides, that was a lot of chocolate and I’m a white chocolate kind of girl.  Don’t get me wrong, I like chocolate but in small doses.  Put some white chocolate in front of me and look out!!

As I sat in church that day, I told God, ok, I’ll buy a dessert but you need to tell me the amount you want me to give.  So I waited.  Pastor who was sitting in the front row, made a comment….anyone who donates $1,000.00 can give me a pie in the face…or something to that effect.  I mostly heard $1,000.00.  More arguing with God.  There’s no way you mean for me to give away my (yes…my) $1,000.00 for some dessert.  You know I have plans for that money right?  So, in my head I conclude there must be another number.

After the service is over, we go out to the Fellowship hall and we have our Get Acquainted Sunday (GAS) potluck.  After we get done eating, the folks who are doing the auction get ready.  The announcer says, “and anyone who donates $1,000.00 or more can have their pick of any dessert from the table.”  Crap!!  There’s that number again only this time they said “or more.”  Fine, $1,000.00 it is.  After all, it’s not mine any ways.  Crap!!!

As the auction begins, people are bidding and taking their baked goods and I’m thinking why didn’t I give my money sooner so I didn’t have to yell out this number in front of everyone.  Gulp!!  I get up from my seat and head to the front of the room to spy the cakes.  I wasn’t up there for long when they pick out that beautiful store bought chocolate peanut butter cake and I again, in my head say, no way am I bidding on a store bought cake…and then this….we have up for bid Nina’s beautiful homemade chocolate with peanut butter cake…wait…did she just say homemade?  Crap!!

This is where my hearts starts to beat out my chest and my legs start to shake and I look over at Nina and ask if she really made the cake.  Oh yes I did.  She said yes.  Say it with me now…crap!!  A few people bid and I throw out my $1,000.00 and people were like what?!!  What did you say?  I don’t think anyone truly knew who said it, as I know I didn’t believe it.  So, I repeat, $1,000.00 and I feel my face go red. The room was a little quieter now, and I was thoroughly and utterly, embarrassed.  So, I told my friend, to keep the cake and serve it at small group the following week and went back to my seat as quick as I could.

Now, this is where it gets good.  You remember I told you, I spied that chocolate peanut butter cake and wrestled about it, over and over.  I bought the cake on Sunday.  My brother had a birthday the day before on Saturday.  Even though my friend had taken the cake home, she texted me and said maybe I could serve some of it on Tuesday night for our ladies Bible study and we could finish it on Wednesday.  I go and pick up the cake on Monday from my friend’s and bring it home and I invite my brother and his girlfriend over for dinner that night.

God is a detail guy.  Oh yes He is.  As we’re all sitting down to a dinner that almost didn’t happen, I tell my brother and his girlfriend about the cake and I ask if they had cake on his birthday.  His girlfriend replied he was supposed to have a Reese’s peanut butter cake but it didn’t happen.  What?  That’s right, on his birthday he didn’t get the chocolate peanut butter cake, but God made sure, that not only would he get that kind of cake, but it would be a $1,000.00 cake.  Crazy right?!!

Lesson learned….you cannot serve two masters.  “For the love of money is the root of all evil.”~~1 Timothy 6:10  Spend some time on that…I mean really, spend some time on that.  Folks said I took a leap of faith that day.  I say, I overcame sin that day.  Money is something that is tangible, I can see it and it makes sense.  Faith on the other hand, is the belief that what you do matters in the universe somewhere.  You don’t always see a return, and you don’t know what being crazy obedient may bring about.  But what I do know is God is faithful and that amazing well traveled cake was worth every penny and in the end, it’s not about the money, it’s about what Jesus did for me and you, the day He died on the cross for us. Priceless.

I bet you wanna know what a $1,000.00 cake looks like huh?  Here you go.  Thank you Nina Kelley for the delicious cake and the use of your picture 🙂  Maybe you can see why I thought they were store bought!! Ah-may-zing!! Nina's Cake


No shirts, no shoes, no service…

I saw an article recently about a woman who was refusing her floral-arrangement service to a same-sex couple who wanted to get married.  Instead of the couple going on their way to find a business that would do so, they took a stand against her and her beliefs and took it to court.  They “won.”  Now she stands to lose her business, her home, and savings all because she stood by her belief in what God says about marriage.  What makes this even more perplexing is prior to all of this mess they were “friends.”

They “won” on the merits the owner violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.  Let’s put aside the fact, God’s law trumps any state law.  What happened to her rights as a citizen of these “United” States under the protection of the First Amendment of the constitution?

She didn’t take a stand against their choice of being gay, she took a stand for Christ and what she believes in.  How is that any different than their choice?  They took a stand against Christ and she stands with Christ.  But instead of the mentality of just moving on, nothing to see here folks, they took their “friend” to court.  What a shame.

Growing up in humid, sweltering weather, businesses around town would put up their “no shirt, no shoes, no service” signs.  Didn’t like that?  Then, you didn’t get in the business.  Pretty simple, very straight forward and if you did test the waters, you were asked to leave and shown the sign.  It was the right of the business owner what they would allow in their store.  No different from those businesses that have a dress code.  If you want to be part of that society, you play by their rules.  If you don’t, then you will simply go someplace else because you don’t want to conform.  Everybody has a choice.

You want to go to college, you’ll find a way.  You don’t want to go college, don’t go.  You want to smoke, go ahead and do it, you don’t, then don’t.  It’s called freedom of choice.  Now there’s a law banning folks from wearing their pants down to their knees…and while I’m sick of seeing people’s underwear, I totally disagree with the law stepping in and mandating how clothes should be worn.  What’s next?  I guess you better cover up the cleavage ladies and nix those coochy coo high slits in your skirt. But seriously, you should just make those wardrobe changes out of self-respect. Just sayin’  My blog…my choice…don’t like it, don’t read it.  See how that worked.  Or, you could get all fired up and lash out irrationally..your choice.

Where does being offended stop?  What gives you or me the right to inflict our life style on someone else.  You won’t find a societal “norm” these days because we’re all over the chart putting ourselves, our wants, and our perceived rights in front of anyone who doesn’t agree.  I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted from trying to move right, when someone keeps pushing me left.  Can you say bully?  We take our stand against bullying, act all shocked and indignant against those bulling headline stories and then we turn around and bully as hard as we can to convince someone our way is right.   Go ahead…take a good, long, hard look in the mirror and say it….bully.  How does it feel?

How can we begin to love one another, when we can’t even respect one another?

When I was knee deep in my sinful ways, I found plenty of people, just like me.  When I decided to follow Christ…guess what?  I found plenty of people just like me. Point being I made the choice.   You have a choice.  There are consequences for every single choice we make and they don’t just affect the one making the choice.  That would be you.

We make our lives easier or harder by the choices we make.  We make life harder when we inflict our choices on someone else and in walks offense.  This business owner made a choice to follow Christ.  The customers made a choice to follow Satan.  She didn’t ask them to follow Christ, but they asked her to participate in Satan’s party.  She said no.  That was her choice.  In walked their offendedness. (new word…grin)  It’s simple…you don’t like it….move on….take your party someplace else.  Life can be pretty amazing when we take our offended glasses off.   I know….I wore them for years.

I sure don’t get things right all the time….I mess up more times than I care to count, but I do know that when my choices affected others negatively and I took pride in forcing my choice pill down someone’s throat, it didn’t take long for those relationships to go sour.  I may not agree with you, you may not agree with me, but how you choose to live your life only becomes my problem when I let it.

God didn’t tell me to tell you how to live your life, because that’s not my job.  He told me to tell you about Him and the love He has for you and what He’s done in my life.  He said, “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you.” ~~John 15:12 (NIV)  Guess what….that’s a choice.

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Be Careful Little Eyes…

First off, let me just say I am in no way any kind of expert in the topic of porn.  I am however well versed in the way it affected various stages of my life.

Growing up I can remember a magazine that sat on the back of the toilet in our home.  I want to say it was called “True Story,” but don’t hold me to that title 100%.  To this day, I still can’t get out of my head the article it contained about a married couple and their German Sheppard.  I’ll just leave end that one there.  I believe it’s called bestiality since it involved an animal.

When my brothers hit their later teenage years, every year for Christmas they would get a copy of Playboy in their stocking.  So, I guess since I was the only girl, I felt left out, so, hey….where’s my copy of Playgirl?  I would have to get one of those on my own since my parents felt girls shouldn’t always be treated as fairly as the boys.  However, I would have to wait and get my first glances into Playgirl magazine through a girlfriend who had a copy of the magazine and let me tell you, once was enough for me.

As you can see, just little of bits and pieces of pornography have been introduced, but some 30+ years later, I’m still affected.  Be careful little eyes what you see…

After I left home and went into the military, I was at my first duty station and my boyfriend at the time asked me to meet him at our friend’s home. It was my first winter in an all warm climate and I remember walking into the home and staring at the Christmas tree which looked so out of place.  I was used to boots, sweaters and jackets and here they were dressed in shorts and t-shirts.  After realizing everyone was laughing, I wondered what was up.  They pointed to the television which had a porn movie playing.  What?  I think I stared at the movie for a couple of seconds and wondered what was so funny and why on earth would they want to show that to someone? I left.

After I got married, I remember my husband bringing up swinging and or trading sexual partners with another couple.  What?  Ummm….how about, no.  I found that thought very distasteful and totally against the vow of marriage and since I’m not enough for you, let me just try on adultery instead.  (Oh, yes I did)

That marriage didn’t work out.  Let’s move ahead to another marriage and let’s just say, when you don’t want to deal with something, like having sex with your husband, you’ll revert back to what you thought worked in your life.  Here honey….please accept this copy of Playboy and “leave me alone.” (the latter part of that sentence being said in my head.) I thought I was the cool wife allowing her husband to visually stimulate himself.  I was a little bit naïve in thinking this would not increase his sexual appetite.  Don’t judge me.  I’ve done enough of that for all of us.

The magazines would lead to movies, and with the internet, well….you can well imagine.  But, I was ok, with the porn as long as it wasn’t on the computer.  What?  Yup, like I said, a little naïve.  The hubby hid that part well.  But there was the day my son wanted to look at a room design his father did in PowerPoint and I was all too happy to look that up for him.  Except I opened the file and instead of a room, it was a very graphic picture of a woman’s parts as they say “down under.”  I couldn’t get the picture closed fast enough.  Can you say, the mental image is still there, I can even tell you the color of the skirt she was wearing.  Well, that is, what you could see of the skirt.

Up to this point in my life, 35+, I had never (ahem) pleasured myself.  I didn’t understand why anyone would need to do such a thing since, well….men were everywhere.  They had to be good for something right?  And I said that very phrase to more than just a few friends.  When you have a skewed view on love, relationships, and the opposite sex, negativity kinda runs rampant in your mind.

But, I would eventually make my way into an adult store, buy some trinket my friends assured would “do the trick” for me and because I was so fed up with sex…this is the ironic part….fed up with sex, so let’s buy a sex toy.  What?  Let’s just say….I never went back to the adult store and said trinket was thrown in a drawer because I just couldn’t get past the whole idea of it.  Never could bring myself to use it.

Ahhh, but said trinket did not stay in the drawer.  Said trinket found its way back out because I had told my husband that I bought one and wouldn’t he be so proud of me that I finally learned to “take care of myself.”  I did explain I didn’t care for said trinket and I put it in the drawer.  So, one day, there in the bedroom with my husband and I in the middle of…you know…I heard a noise…and husband thought this would be a fun way to change things up in the bedroom.  GASP.  What?  I was appalled.  (are you getting any of the irony in this)

I’ll never forget the night an argument that ensued very loudly about how my husband thought I was committing adultery.  I was shocked and I argued vehemently that it was not me, but him who was committing adultery every time he opened one of those magazines, or watched a movie or hit the sites on the computer.  Ooooh, let me tell you what, it was like I had opened Pandora’s Box. I didn’t even know I felt that way until the words flew from my mouth.  It was ugly and hateful and it was just another nail in our coffin.

Pornography didn’t ruin our marriage, but it sure played its part.  Adultery didn’t ruin our marriage, but it too played its part.  We were caught up in desperate attempts to fill our selfishness because we couldn’t get what we wanted from each other.  I will never forget the first time my husband walked in on me “pleasuring” myself.  I felt dirty…worthless…guilty and I tried to cover it all up with pride.  I put on my justification pants and paraded around with my “how dare he judge me” crown.  How’d that work for me?  Not so good.

And I would be remiss if I left out the countless hours I lost myself in the world of romance novels.  They’re called fiction for a reason.  Trying to take a made-up man of perfection and stack your very real life man up to a fantasy, well, let’s just say, your real life man won’t stand a chance.  You will pick the fantasy every time.

I’m not here to tell anyone else what to do.  I can only tell you that sexual immorality played a significant part in my life and in no good way.  But, it didn’t just play a part in my life, it affected families and friends but more importantly, it stood in between my relationship with God.

God is very specific about sexual immorality and how we’re to steer clear of that mess!  And you know what?  He was right.   Just the little bits I saw, led to so much more and yes, I even found myself at a few male strip shows and the local strip clubs.  These were all things I did because not only did I stop caring about who I was, I cared nothing for who God made me to be.  To be honest, I thought it was pretty trendy to check out the strip clubs.  Shoot, I even thought I could get up there and show them gals a thing or two.   Of course, you can always do things better than someone else when your drunk.  Right?

“But, the fruit of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.”  ~~ Galations 5:22-23.

Those things….those sexual immoral things….can’t offer any of the fruits God wants us to have in this life.  That life….that sexual immoral life….is nothing I ever want feeding my soul or my eyes again.  The cost was too high and while I’ve been forgiven, there are things I can never un-see or undo.  And to be honest, I don’t know that I want to.  Sometimes I need that reminder the hard walk of sin created in my life.  Not to beat me down, but to see how far God has raised me back up from the dead.  Thank you Lord Jesus! Hallelujah!

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